Shark’s Eye Tournament and Festival Returns to Montauk

Fisherman, environmentalists and fellow Long Islanders will gather on July 11-13 for the return of Montauk’s only satellite tag, catch-and-release, sport fishing competition: Shark’s Eye Tournament and Festival.

It’s the first ever no-kill shark tournament in the northeast, supporting science and shark research while promoting education and environmental awareness. All sharks caught in the tournament are tagged and released—a mandatory rule—ensuring their safety and encouraging the conservation of sharks.

“This year is really the official kick off of this tournament, which will continue on, ” Laura Mastandrea, Festival Director, said. “We’ve had such a great response.”

Back in 2010 Rav Freidel, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, and local artist April Gornick, reached out to the Shark Brothers, Sean and Brooks Paxton, about creating an all-release shark fishing competition, similar to their already existing Ultimate Shark Challenge in Florida. Montauk, the birthplace of recreational shark fishing, has yet to feature a competition with an all-release fishing format.

“We wanted to ensure an exciting, high stake competition in the northeast, that respected recreational anglers for their fishing,” Paxton said. “But we went one step further to also integrate cutting edge science and research into the event and other aspects to involve the public and promote awareness.”

The Paxton brothers, who grew up hunting and fishing, describe themselves as outspoken sporting advocates.

“We draw the line at wasteful practices,” Paxton said. “Killing for a trophy or a prize is just wasteful practice. Instead of protesting, which isn’t our nature, we provide an alternative way of enjoying recreational fishing and maintain the integrity of the sport.”

The Shark’s Eye Tournament institutes a specialized method of practices placing great emphasis on safety precautions. Participants are required to use non-stainless steel inline circle hooks only while implementing a heavy tackle method to reduce capture time.

No sharks will be brought back to dock. Instead, eligible mako, thresher and blue sharks will be fitted with satellite tracking tags, which will monitor their movements post-release. Tagged sharks will be named by the fishermen who catch them and the public will be able to follow these fish online using OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker.

“It’s a great time to be alive with all the technology we have,” Paxton said.

Following its debut in 2013, the Shark’s Eye Tournament and Festival, hosted by the Shark Brothers and special guests at the Montauk Marine Basin, is destined to stick around.

Last year, 64 sharks were caught and released including 33 mako and 31 blue sharks. Four of the sharks were satellite tagged. This year, six satellite tags will be made available by OCEARCH, with one of them personally donated by Austin Marxe—who hopes to name the tagged shark after his granddaughter, Isabella.

The three-day tournament will also include a festival Saturday and Sunday from 2pm to 6pm featuring surf and turf food vendors, outdoor sport and water gear, children’s activities, live music by Brian Neale and play-by-play coverage of the shark fishing tournament.

Limited team entries are still available to compete for $10,000 in prize money, provided by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, plus half of all entry fees and other prizes.

“There is no other fishing tournament like Shark’s Eye,” Guy Harvey, world-renowned marine artist and conservationist, said. “This tournament combines the thrill of shark fishing, practical conservation measures, and meaningful fisheries research and community involvement into a single event. It is truly the future of shark fishing tournaments.”

If you go: Shark Eye’s Tournament and Festival at Montauk Marine Basin,
426 West Lake Drive, Montauk, New York
July 11, 12 and 13, 2pm to 6 pm
Admission: free